There’s quite an interesting market developing for catchers in this year’s free agency. Two teams on the lookout for one, not necessarily a starter, are the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets.
It makes quite a lot of sense for the Orioles to dive into the open market and look for a catcher. They’re not keeping Matt Wieters, who disappointed in his qualifying year contract season, and wasn’t offered a $17.2 million QO for 2017. Right now, Caleb Joseph is their best remaining catcher. He’s not a bad option, showing some power with 11 home runs in 355 plate appearances while batting .234 during the 2015 campaign. Last season was far less productive, which makes the Orioles worry about having him as their #1 option. To back him up, the Orioles can use either Audry Perez or Francisco Pena.
But there are options, not too expensive options, outside of Baltimore. One of them is Nick Hundley, who played 50 games for the Orioles in 2014 and spent the last two seasons with the Rockies, hitting 10 home runs in each season while batting .282 and posting a .785 OPS. He’s not the best of defensive presences, but he does a good job of picking up players trying to steal base. The Orioles will probably be looking to give him a one year deal, nothing more. They have a top prospect in Chance Cisco waiting, and they plan to spend money on an outfielder, so committing long term to a catcher they don’t value as an everyday guy for more than one season is difficult to do.
The Mets are also looking for a catcher who isn’t necessarily at the upper tier of the current free agents. They plan on giving Travis d’Arnaud, who has missed plenty of games with injuries over the last two years, the playing time to finally establish himself as a mainstay at home plate. d’Arnaud showed impressive power during 67 games in the 2015 season, but that didn’t carry over to the 2016 season, and considering his backups are Kevin Plawecki and Rene Rivera, it makes a lot of sense the Mets will be going after a decent backup catcher who can provide some offense in case d’Arnaud doesn’t live up to the promise once again.